Major fortunes have emerged from the entertainment and media industry in recent decades, and many top figures in this sector are engaged in philanthropy. Some have established professional grantmaking foundations, whereas others tap their star power to raise funds for other organizations or draw attention to a cause. A key theme in our coverage, though, is that many of Tinseltown’s wealthiest stars are still very much entrenched in the biz, and often quite young, meaning that their giving could escalate quite a bit down the line.
Take Hollywood power couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. At 44 years old, Reynolds is the second-highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning $71.5 million in 2020. His lucrative team-up with Netflix made him more than $20 million each for films “Six Underground” and “Red Notice.” As for 33-year-old actress Blake Lively, she’s worth $30 million by some estimates, and recently starred in thriller film “The Rhythm Section.” Combined, this power couple could be worth $150 million.
So far, the couple’s giving has not been overwhelming, and they don’t appear to have established a family foundation. However, getting a handle on the family’s emerging giving now might be useful as they escalate their giving down the line. So what is this wealthy couple interested in?
Celebs have often leveraged their influence and deployed funds during critical global moments. Consider Live Aid, the legendary mid-1980s concert broadcast around the globe to a viewing audience of 1.9 billion to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. And in the past year, celebrities ranging from Dolly Parton — who helped fund the Moderna vaccine — to Rihanna and Beyonce have all stepped up during these unprecedented times.
Reynolds and Lively have made a series of related gifts since last March, including $1 million to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. Reynolds was born in Vancouver, and some of the couple’s early giving has focused on north-of-the-border organizations. The funds earmarked for Feeding America will fund its COVID-19 Response Fund, established to support member food banks across the country as they help those affected by the pandemic. The Hollywood couple also gave $400,000 to four New York City hospitals. The duo resides in Westchester County, which was hard-hit last spring.
Social justice and more
It’s no secret that many of Hollywood’s biggest stars champion progressive causes, from climate change to global humanitarian efforts. Reynolds and Lively gave $2 million to fund social justice initiatives at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. The money supports the NAACP LDF’s ongoing and expanded efforts to strengthen democracy and advance racial justice, while their gift to the Young Center is going to the Waymaker Fund for Immigrant Children, which aims to protect the rights of immigrant children separated from their families.
Blake Lively has spoken out passionately about child exploitation, saying in part, “I’m here today because I’m a momma… If you think of what you would do for your child, I don’t think there’s anything you wouldn’t ask of yourself.”
The couple also donated $250,000 to Covenant House Vancouver and another $250,000 to Covenant House Toronto to support at-risk, homeless and trafficked youths in Canada.
In addition to those grants, Reynolds has supported the Michael J. Fox Foundation, where he serves on the board. That cause is deeply personal for Reynolds: His father passed away from the disease.
The important thing to remember is that they are still in the very early stages of their philanthropy. While the pandemic will not go on forever, the couple’s efforts during unusual times can serve as an early snapshot of what work they might engage in. For instance, human services and health might be one area that sees a lot more money from the couple later on. And Canada, Los Angeles and New York could emerge as significant sites of philanthropy.
Ultimately, the wealth—not to mention influence—that Lively and Reynolds have at their disposal make them a Hollywood power couple to keep an eye on in the coming years.